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Allison Holker Boss Joined by Daughter Weslie in First Public Appearance Since Husband tWitch's Death

Holker accepted a National Alliance of Mental Illness award in honor of her late husband, who died by suicide in December

Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for National Alliance on Mental Illness Westside Los Angeles
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for National Alliance on Mental Illness Westside Los Angeles

Allison Holker Boss stepped out with her daughter Weslie on Friday in her first public appearance since her husband Stephen 'tWitch' Boss's death.

The So You Think You Can Dance alum, 35, and her 14-year-old accepted the National Alliance of Mental Illness Westside Los Angeles (NAMI WLA) Heart of a Champion Award in honor of Stephen, who died by suicide at age 40 in December.

At the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood at NAMI WLA's annual Mental Health Gala, Holker began her speech: "Thank you Derek [Hough] and Jenna [Dewan] for coming out and helping to present this award for our family and our beloved Stephen. I call him Stephen, you call him Stephen and tWitch, and we love him for being both."

"Thank you to NAMI West LA for this incredible honor. We promise to continue to move from love and joy forever and always, and to continue to inspire and lead and to teach and to grow," she continued.

Related:Allison Holker Boss Says Returning to Dance Will Be a 'Big Step' as She Grieves 'Wonderful' Husband tWitch

Paul Archuleta/Getty
Paul Archuleta/Getty

NAMI WLA revealed at the gala Friday that they are partnering with the Boss family's Move With Kindness Foundation, which was created on behalf of her and their children — Weslie, Maddox, 6, and Zaia, 3 — to support mental health initiatives in Stephen's honor.

The mental health organization will dedicate its Hearts+Minds program in the Boss family name. According to the website, "Hearts+Minds is a wellness, dance and movement program designed to educate and empower you to better manage your health — mentally and physically."

Related:Allison Holker Thanks Fans for 'Hope and Inspiration' After Death of Stephen 'tWitch' Boss

"We are so excited about this partnership to continue the Hearts+Minds program," Holker said. "We're excited to team up with something that's already doing so much, inspiring and teaching so many young children and adults how to get help with their mental health."

She concluded her speech: "I want to say a special thank you to my friends for just being the most incredible people and supporting us at this special time and to all of you for opening your arms and while he was here and making us feel so safe. And Weslie, I'm so proud of you and I love you. Thank you."

Robin L Marshall/WireImage
Robin L Marshall/WireImage

Dewan, 42, spoke to PEOPLE at the gala about why it was important to her to present Allison and Weslie with the award.

"To have the moment to share in his love, light and legacy being here to support Allison," she said of Stephen.

"Their family, I've known for so many years, and they are truly the absolute best, biggest hearted. They take care of everybody else," Dewan continued. "And I just think being here to help support her and her family and moving forward from tragedy and also supporting his legacy and his love and light and what he did for the world."

Related:Jennifer Lopez, Cheryl Burke and More Honor Stephen 'tWitch' Boss: 'The World Lost a Bright Light'

She added, "You saw how everybody really felt this and felt him, and he touched so many people. So to be able to be here and honor that is really important to me."

The actress and dancer also told PEOPLE how she thinks Stephen left his mark on the world: "I do think his legacy already is love, light, bringing his incredible grace. I think there was an uplifting energy that he gave to other people, and I think if there's any lesson or anything we take home from this, it is what you present is not always what is the full picture."

"I hope people can see that you can struggle and be strong, and being strong doesn't mean you don't struggle. I think that is important to highlight tonight," she noted.

Related:Allison Holker Boss Opens Up for the First Time After tWitch's Death: 'He Wanted to Be Everyone's Superman'

Holker previously confirmed Boss' death in a statement to PEOPLE after he died by suicide.

"No one had any inkling that he was low. He didn't want people to know," Holker said in her first interview since her husband's death with PEOPLE. "He just wanted to be everyone's Superman and protector."

"It's been really hard because I can't understand what was happening in that moment [he died]," said Holker, who first met Stephen in 2010 when they appeared as All-Stars on Fox's competition series So You Think You Can Dance. (When they wed three years later, Stephen adopted Weslie, Holker's daughter from a previous relationship.)

"Stephen brought so much joy to this world, and he deserves to be remembered as the beautiful man he was," she said of continuing his legacy.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.

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